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some instinctive ideas November 27, 2006

Posted by Cobus in Emerging Church.

I discovered this a few days ago, something I wrote months ago, but thought maybe it will stirr some thoughts in someone. 

One of the biggest influences in my life happened when I was 16. I helped out at the midweek youth group (grade 6 and 7’s) in my grade 10 year, and when the next year started, none of the adults wanted to continue. So I continued the youth group, together with a friend that was a year younger than I was. 

Now, we made a lot of mistakes, have no illusions about it, but I have been thinking back a lot these past few weeks. We didn’t have a very good theological reason for everything we did, and the next time I’m running a youth group I would definitely do a lot of things differently. But the question I’ve been asking myself, is why did we do the things we did in the way we did them? And the answer is simple – we couldn’t imagine any other way. 

We never even thought about not letting people ask questions in the middle of a “talk” or Bible lesson. It was obvious, if you wanted to say something, say it. If you could put up your hand before you said it, it kind of helped. If you couldn’t come the whole time, and had to leave right before the “spiritual stuff”, then that was OK, then you just played some games with us. We never thought of putting the chairs in rows. You sat as you liked. On the floor, on some chairs, on a table, against your friends knees. We just kind of liked it if you didn’t lie down. 

I could list quite a number of other examples, but I think you get the picture. And maybe you had the privilege of starting  something new, and really toying with new ideas. I wasn’t aware of what I was doing at that moment. I just did what came naturally. And without any books of anything, I just instinctively knew that the most important thing is the relationships that we have with these kids. 

Some good theology would have helped, but I think there is something to learn from the way we tried to figure things out in my own simple 16, 17 or 18 year old way. We can learn something from tradition, but sometimes the way we did things, can cause us to become totally unnatural.


1. Pete - November 28, 2006

Hey Cobus, I think you’re asking a question that we have been asking ourselves for quite a while now in the DRC: “why are we losing our members to other churches?”, or just maybe “why are we losing our members?”

We get offended that some pastor in some charismatic congrecation tries to get us in the DRC down (the most recent example I’ve heard is that it was said by a pastor that the root-word for “dominee” [reverend in Afrikaans] is “domineer” [to dominate], which I found quite amusing! ;-)). But really if we need to be honest: we are doing the exact same thing with so-called “safe theology” (of which I have to admit that I find my self “safe” in aswell!).

What happens when things get messy? Do we know, or can’t it be that things are already messed up and we are tying to fix it with structure? That we are killing faith with stucture, with religion? It is a difficult concept, one that kind of questions what I have been studying the past 5 years (been studying theology).

Although I think that getting messy is maybe a synonym for theology, trying to put “Something” or “Someone” (ment with respect!) under our microscope that is bigger than the microscope itself! For years, decades, centuries, millennia maybe we have been trying to find out who this God is that we pray to. We try to find out from other’s stories about Him (?), in how we relate with others, in the struggles that we have and the questions and consequential answers that we find.

Messy is what we are all about, families are messy! One of the most beautiful moments in the movie “Over the hedge” is where the turtle (can’t remeber his name) tells the “quasi-villain” racoon (can’t remember his name either) that if hae only had asked them for help, they would have done what they did in anycase – because that is what families do! In the racoon’s reaction on why they didn’t tell him that in the first place, the turtle’s reply was that bad communication is also part of being a family.

I think it’s time for being family again, being real and allowing God to work in all of us irrelevant of denomination, irrelivant of messyness – when what is important is how we relate to God and one-another.

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